«The real value in changing the status quo and getting more women to the forefront, is by having women share about the important work that they do, and not just talk about their gender as a topic.»
This episode was recorded right before Christmas, when I had the pleasure to chat with Alexandra Gunderson and Sheri Shamlou.
Alexandra inspired by a Women in Data dinner in New York, took it upon her to find likeminded people in Norway. That is how she came across Women in Data Science, the conference that was brought to Norway by Heidi Dahl in 2017. First meetup as a Community was June 2018, and this years WiDS event «Crossing the AI Chasm» is coming to Oslo (and digitally) on May 24th, 2023.
Here are my key takeaways:
Women in Data Science (WiDS)
- «Creating a meeting place, a place for people to connect and get inspired»
- Creating a platform and stage for outstanding women.
- Here are some of the events WiDS organizes:
- «Champagne Coding» - hands on event
- «Data after Dark» - after work event: 1-2 quick high level presentations
- «Data for Good» - get together and solve difficult challenges for greater causes
- An important mission is to increase the number of role models in the community to look top to.
- The goal is to provide arenas to learn together, son it is as important to share stories about failure and collaborate around the learnings from those.
- WiDS is looking for sponsors, and one benefit can be, that trough events real-life uses cases can be solved.
- The focus for 2023 is «scalability» how to get unstuck from ML and AI pilots and bring your work to production?
The Quest for Diversity
- Diversity is a complex topic with several perspectives: gender, nationality, background, knowledge, expertise, and experience.
- Why is diversity important?
- Leads to more innovative and effective solutions
- Leads to more fair and just outcomes
- The starting point when working with diversity on a daily basis is awareness.
Diversity in the workplace
- Diversity doesn’t magically happen. You have to work for it.
- Awareness is a first step, but you also need to collaborate in broader groups.
- The value is gained when you are able to include everyone in your events and talks.
- For people to work together against biases of any kind, you need an inclusive culture from the beginning.
- Be open in your communication and foster a culture of collaboration.
- The «3rd shift» is an important requisite for women to be able to spend the same amount of time and intellectual capacity at work.
- The work for an inclusive work environment is never over. We have to continuously work on its and talk about it.
Diversity in recruitment
- You have to actively seek out to hire people with different backgrounds.
- In recruitment, be aware of how you write a job announcement.
- Use gender neutral language (avoid stuff like «Data Science Ninja» or «Data Rock Star»).
- There are online applications to check if your language is gender neutral and with suggestions for replacements of bias´ words.
- You need to highlight more possibilities with a job, like growth and learning opportunities.
- Minimize the list of requirements in a job-posting.
- Be aware of you own biases and work with diverse teams also in recruiting.
- When screening CVs, be aware that different people write in different styles.
- In an interview process, eg. Women don’t like to do coding tests, with someone watching them.
Get involved: LinkedIn group, Meetup or https://www.widsoslo.com/.